You have spent months having interviews, drafting business plans and having socials with your potential new line manager and colleagues. You finally receive your offer and new contract and, after happily accepting, you have to go through the dreaded resignation. And that’s when it starts.
The counter-offer arrives.
As recruiters, we see it time and time again. Employers panic when key team members resign and feel forced to make irrational offers and changes to prevent losing skills to a competitor.
There are a multitude of reasons you may receive a counter offer and the specific motivation will boil down to a combination of your role in the team, current projects you are working on and your line manager. But, broadly speaking, counter-offers fall into three categories:
Improved remuneration and/or benefits, either immediately or in the future
An offer of promotion, or the promise of promotion in the future
An offer of improved conditions, for instance changes to reporting lines.
Whatever the offer, this is a time to be wary. Counter offers are almost always wrapped in flattery, which may well conceal the true motivation to retain your services. This is not a time to be swayed by fine words. At a critical crossroads in your career, this is a time for a level head and clear thinking.
The truth is there are a multitude of reasons why accepting a counter offer can be dangerous. After all, any situation in which you are forced to get an outside offer before being offered a pay rise, promotion or better working conditions should be treated with suspicion.
Consider the potential consequences…
Yes, by accepting a role elsewhere you have made your employer aware that you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your role . But you have also given them a reason to think you are less than loyal. Where will that really leave you in the pecking order when promotions are being considered?
Likewise, if you do get promoted as a result of a counter-offer, the relationship you enjoy with your colleagues may be affected. You could lose their respect when they find out that you got a pay rise or promotion because you ‘threatened to leave’. Worse still, if they were in line for promotion, and your advancement has put the brakes on theirs…
In the end, counter‐offers are not really about you at all. They are usually nothing more than stalling devices to give your employer time to replace you or make a transition on their timetable. Ask any recruiter and they will tell you the same story, the statistics show that the vast majority of people who accept counter‐offers will still end up leaving their firm within six to 12 months.
Then consider the new employer you will be letting down. If you accept a counter‐offer, you will almost certainly be closing down a potential career option with an employer you clearly have respect for.
All in all, the counter-offer is a sticky situation that is best avoided – and there are ways to do just that.
For instance, stay in control by resigning in writing. Of course, your boss will want to discuss it with you but this is your chance to discourage any thoughts of counter-offering. Simply make it clear that you have weighed up the merits of both positions and have chosen to leave – be up front and tell them that you don’t want a counter-offer and just wish for an amicable departure.
Remember, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. A counter-offer may be a quick fix for your current employer but, long term, it is likely to be little more than fool’s gold for you.